Ah, the smell of baseball is in the air. March Madness is over, which means the NBA playoffs are right around the corner.
Butler’s second place finish last night seems to be just about the only thing going for Indiana fans. See more in this week’s Power Rankings.
1. Cleveland (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 1)
Will Lebron come to NY? That question still remains, but the uncertainty is not affecting the Cavs one bit.
As someone who is praying that Lebron leaves Cleveland after this season, here's to hoping he gives it one last "hoorah" and finally brings that championship home, as this team has been taking the rest of the league by storm all season long.
2. Orlando (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 2)
One of the league’s more consistent teams, Orlando has been going through the motions just to rake up the wins and finish out the season, although Matt Barnes’ latest outburst this week provided some late season entertainment and amusement.
3. Lakers (Last Season’s Power Ranking: 3)
With the competition so steep in the West, the Lakers are finally beginning to feel the pressure. An injury to Andrew Bynum has slowed this team down, weakening its usually formidable frontcourt game.
Lucky for them, the playoffs come with clean slates, and that is when Mr. Fisher likes to fill his own slate up with clutch, big time moments for the history moments.
4. Phoenix (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 4)
After firing Terry Porter last season following a failed succession to the up-tempo Mike D’Antoni, the Suns have finally found their way back into the league’s elite with some familiar factors: an up-tempo style and another MVP-like season from Steve Nash.
5. Denver (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 7)
After a bit of a falling off last week, the Nuggets are back on track, being the first team in this week’s rankings to move up two spots. A clutch Carmelo Anthony could potentially leapfrog this team to this to the NBA Finals should the Lakers not be able to overcome their various injuries.
6. Utah (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 6)
Can anyone say the surprise team of the season? Well, perhaps not quite, when you consider Jerry Sloan is the coach. The maturing of Deron Williams has certainly propelled this team to one of the West’s best. It is to be seen, however, whether or not Carlos Boozer will return next season to help repeat this season’s success.
7. Atlanta (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 8)
Jamal Crawford has truly done wonders for this team. Who knew a career-long loser could help such a winning team? In any event, Atlanta’s depth has been helping the Hawks soar past some serious contenders.
8. Dallas (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 5)
This team takes a bit of a drop, but just like the Lakers, the Mavs know when the real season starts. Although its heavy winning streaks have ended, you can never count out a team with gritty veterans like Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. They’re coming for you, LA!
9. San Antonio (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 11)
Here’s another team that must be beginning to smell the NBA Finals in the air. No surprise here, but Manu is beginning to remind people why you can never count the Spurs out of the championship conversation.
10. Boston (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 9)
I bet all those Celtics fans are missing Eddie House right about now. The Celtics have fallen off the contention wagon just a bit, and they no longer have a Derek Fisher-like Eddie House to give them a playoff boost.
11. Oklahoma City (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 12)
It’s sad to think that with the playoffs approaching, the Thunder’s Cinderella story may be coming to an end. The playoffs are where you separate the men from the boys, but unfortunately, I don’t believe the Thunder will put up much of a fight against the more mature and experienced teams in the West.
12. Miami (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 14)
The Heat are on fire!!! Um, pun totally intended. But seriously, Miami is definitely coming alive at the right time. Only time will tell whether or not Wade and the gang are able to put up a fight against the East’s elite.
13. Portland (Last Week’ Power Ranking: 10)
The Blazers showed so much promise early on. As the playoffs approach, it seems as though they may be overtaken by the Spurs and other contenders gunning for that late season surge.
14. Milwaukee (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 13)
The Bucks have certainly turned heads this season. Maybe you could call it luck, because ever since Brandon Jennings fell into their hands, the Bucks have been exceeding all expectations.
15. Charlotte (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 15)
The Bobcats stayed consistent over the week, staying in the same spot. This team has finally started to win, which is something this city may want to get used to with Mr. Jordan in charge.
16. Memphis (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 17)
Just call them the Bucks of the West! Well, not quite, as the Grizzlies’ bid for the playoffs will fall short once again this season despite exceeding expectations and producing an All-Star in Zach Randolph. Better luck next year, boys.
17. Chicago (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 18)
Things are really coming down to the wire in Chicago. Behind Toronto a game for the East’s final spot, we’ll have to wait and see whether or not Derrick Rose’s playoff prediction comes true.
18. Toronto (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 19)
The Raptors better pray they holds on to that final roster spot. The surging Bulls are in front of them in this week’s power rankings, and if that holds true at the end of the season, Chris Bosh may not be looking to return next season.
19. Houston (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 16)
The Rockets had glimmers of hope this season, but have really never been able to get the job done. As the season nears its end, the Rockets slip down the rankings as the real contenders start to take their rightful places.
20. New Orleans (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 20)
Another stagnant team, the Hornets must now look to this offseason and figure out their financial and point guard situations. I have a feeling both dilemmas may be fixable with just one move—who wants CP3?!
21. Indiana (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 21)
Yet another team in the same spot. Unfortunately for the Pacers, they didn’t have as much success as Butler this season. Well, at least Indi fans had something to cheer for this season.
22. New York (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 22)
As a Knicks fan, I’m still holding onto that epic win against Denver! Oh, that was last week? Oops, well at least they beat the Clippers this week. That’s not much of an accomplishment either though.
23. Philadelphia (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 23)
This 76ers season has gone from bad to worse, and there just seems to be no hope in the near future.
24. Golden State (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 26)
The Warriors picked up a bit of momentum with Don Nelson surpassing the coaching record this week. Too bad it doesn’t mean much now as far as the team’s chances are concerned.
25. Detroit (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 27)
Things just haven’t clicked for Detroit this season whatsoever. All I keep thinking is how much Ben Gordon would love to be in the thick of a playoff race with Chicago desperately needing his late game heroics.
26. LA Clippers (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 24)
This team has been in the cellar all season long, and to make matters worse, they lost to the Knicks this week.
27. Sacramento (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 25)
Although the Kings’ season has not gone well, the team certainly has some promise with its young talent. Better luck next year is all I can say.
28. Washington (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 29)
I can’t say that I believe many are paying attention to the Wizards’ play this year. But I can tell you they will continue to be one of the most talked about teams, with Gilbert Arenas still a question mark to return next season.
29. New Jersey (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 28)
Things are looking up for the Nets! They have cap space, good young talent, and the New Jersey is actually out of the power rankings’ cellar for the second week in a row!
30. Minnesota (Last Week’s Power Ranking: 30)
It’s sad to say, but Minnesota’s sole basketball accomplishment this season may be figuring out an effective role for Darko this season.
The Bleacher Report NBA Power Rankings are done by averaging individual feature columnist's tallies. Weekly contributors are: Alex McVeigh (Dallas), Rich Kurtzman (Denver), Denton Ramsey (Houston Rockets ), Jose Salviati (LA Clippers ), Lucas Shapiro (NBA Trades/Breaking News), Keith Schlosser (NY Knicks ), Curtis Finchum (Oklahoma City ), Bryan Toporek (Philadelphia 76ers ) and DeMarco Williams (NBA Lead).